Thursday, 6th January 2022

South Tyneside College’s support for a young people’s education initiative in Zimbabwe has taken a novel turn.

In 2014, through our Dr Winterbottom Charitable Fund, we donated around 10,000 books to the Youth Contact Centre music and creative arts collective in the town of Bulawayo.

The books, along with musical instruments and other schooling essentials, were shipped in a giant metal transport box as part of our ‘Classroom in a Container” project.

We are delighted that the books have now been gifted by the Youth Contact Centre, renamed the Bluez Café, to 10 public libraries in and around Bulawayo.

Officials at the Bluez Café realised the novels and education manuals were being underused by its music-focused students.

The switch has delighted Dr Winterbottom Charitable Fund organisers and Bulawayo residents, who now have thousands of extra tomes to read.

Les Watson, 70, a former South Tyneside College governor who helped found the charitable fund, said: “It’s very good news that the books we donated have found a new but still educational use.

The Bluez Café, which our original donation supported, is going from strength to strength as a centre which inspires young musicians and other creative types.

Its success in those arenas means the books were destined not to be used as much as staff at the Bluez Café had originally foreseen.

“At the end of the day, there’s nowhere better for any book, or indeed for 10,000 of them, than in public libraries.

“Everyone associated with the Dr Winterbottom Charitable Fund is thrilled the people of Bulawayo are continuing to benefit from our donation.”

Josh Nyapimbi, chief executive of the Nhimbe Trust, which operates the Bluez Café, said: “Bulawayo’s libraries are incredibly grateful for this generous donation.

“We felt the books were not being used as much as we would have liked by our students, who are far more focused on music and the arts.”

Solomon Mguni, the mayor of Bulawayo, added: “The city is grateful for the partnership and the steps made in enhancing knowledge and literacy in the Bulawayo community.

“We would like to thank the college and its staff and governors for extending the donation through the Nhimbe Trust. We look forward to your continued support.”

The Dr Winterbottom Charitable Fund, which is supported by schools and other South Tyneside organisations, helps students and good causes at home but sometimes also abroad.

It is named after Dr Thomas Masterman Winterbottom, who was born in South Shields in 1766 and became a notable town GP.

His financial bequest led to the founding of South Shields Marine School, which is today part of South Tyneside College, in the 1860s.

South Tyneside College is now part of Tyne Coast College, whose brands also include Tyne Metropolitan College, in North Tyneside.

Domestically, the fund enables students to study and progress effectively, form their own businesses or gain financial help in difficult times.

It also has links with organisations overseas, assisting them or individuals when possible.

More information on the fund is available by emailing dwcf@stc.ac.uk or calling 0191 427 3717.

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